Halachos of Using Cosmetics and Personal Care Items on Pesach

Reviewed January 2024

In addition to pharmaceutical companies, Rav Gershon Bess also contacts many cosmetic companies and bases the following chometz-free list on his research. L’Halacha, all non-food items not fit for canine consumption – nifsal mei’achilas kelev (i.e., something that one would not feed his dog) – may be used on Pesach. This includes all cosmetics, soaps, ointments, and creams.1 Nonetheless, people have acted stringently with regard to these items.

Below are several reasons why people are strict:

  1. Many products, including shaving lotion and perfume, contain denatured alcohol which can be restored to regular alcohol (see Igros Moshe O.C. 3:62). According to some opinions, one should not use such products if chometz-based. (Sefer Kovetz Halachos Pesach Chapter 12, footnote 7 has a brief discussion regarding the different opinions). The STAR-K Pesach Guide lists products which do not use chometz-based alcohols.
  2. The Biur Halacha (326:10 B’shaar) writes in the name of the Gra that one should be strict and not use non-kosher soap all year (sicha k’shtiya). Although we are not accustomed to this stringency, many individuals have adopted this chumra during Pesach and do not permit the use of chometz items even if they are used externally.
  3. Some are of the opinion that we do not say ‘nifsal‘ (i.e., the food is unfit for canine consumption) applies to a chometz item that has a good fragrance even if it is a non-food item, since the purpose of having a good fragrance is still being fulfilled. According to this, deodorants, etc., that contain a chometz derivative could not be used on Pesach even if it is inedible. See Maharam Shick, Orach Chaim 242.
  4. Lipstick is often inadvertently ingested when eating food. If it contains chometz, it is halachically permissible to apply to the lips since the lipstick is unfit for canine consumption. Nevertheless, most women prefer not to consume even a trace of anything prohibited. The STAR-K Pesach Guide lists chometz-free lipsticks.
  5. Mouthwash and toothpaste contain sorbitol and other ingredients which may be derived from chometz. Although, l’Halacha, these items are permissible to use since they are nifsal mei’achilas kelev, many prefer not to use them since they are taken orally (Sefer Kovetz Halachos Pesach 12:11). The STAR-K Pesach Guide lists chometz-free brands of such products.
  6. Historically, it has been the custom to follow stringent opinions regarding Hilchos Pesach. In addition, it seems to have been a prevalent custom to restrict the use of items which may contain chometz, even when they are clearly nifsal mei’achilas kelev. The STAR-K Pesach Guide provides accurate information for those who wish to continue to follow the more strict opinion and prevailing custom when using such products.

1. There are numerous halachos beyond the scope of this article regarding which personal care items and cosmetics may or may not be used on any Shabbos or Yom Tov. For a full discussion, see “The Kashrus, Shabbos, and Pesach Guide to Cosmetics” or call STAR-K for assistance.